Can a Capstone Course Try to Accomplish Too Much?
Kristi Upson-Saia thinks it can, and she has data from one field that supports her belief. When her religious studies department (at Occidental College) decided to reassess its capstone course, Upson-Saia looked for relevant publications in her field. Finding few, she began collecting data from other religious studies departments. She asked those departments to explain their course objectives and share capstone materials such as guidelines, checklists, websites, and syllabi. Her analysis of religious study capstones includes data from 29 different programs, and what she found is typical of the descriptive analysis of capstones completed in several other fields. The courses have different objectives, they address content in different ways, and students complete a variety of assignments, although most involve the application of research skills used in the field.
Seven Important Factors in Program Assessment
“No one should be surprised to learn that faculty (in general) have not enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to see if their students measure up to those at other universities or to the expectations of their professors,” writes Diane Halpern in a “personalized review” of assessment programs in general and in her field of psychology. (p. 358) Faculty who believed assessment was another of those “trendy things” destined to pass once something else new came along have been proven wrong. The assessment movement is now close to 30 years old and still very much a part of the higher education scene. Institutions found it hard to ignore once it started being a condition for receiving federal funds and a review criteria used by the national accrediting associations and various professional program reviewing agencies.
Reviewing and updating some of her previous writings, Halpern suggests the list of factors important in program assessment have not changed but merit regular review. Here’s a summary of those seven factors drawn from a more detailed discussion of them that appears in the article referenced below: